So today I have for you something that I quite frankly live for when it comes to rock and roll nostalgia—a one-off pay-TV special that aired in 1980 featuring the mighty Queen and their fearless frontman Freddie Mercury—sans-stache—sounding and looking god-like.
The Queen Special featured live footage during its 50 minute broadcast which was apparently shot at the last show of Queen’s “Crazy Tour” at the end of December in 1979. It also contains other material, including their electrifying performance during the Rock For Kampuchea concert (that also aired on television in 1980) and brief campy appearances from various celebrities such as Twiggy, John Cleese, Ringo Starr and his wife Bond girl Barbara Bach, and veteran British actor Roy Kinnear that you will most likely remember from his role as “Henry Salt” in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
And since I’m a bit of a Queen nerd I feel compelled to also talk about the appearance of Queen’s legendary gigantic stage lighting rig called the “Pizza Oven” in this vintage footage.
The Pizza Oven utilized 320 blindingly hot lights on its main truss. The audience couldn’t really see the huge lighting apparatus until the show started at which time it would slowly ascend amid high volumes of the rock and roll staples, dry ice and smoke. At the conclusion of the gig the Pizza Oven would come out somewhat over the stage illuminating the band as they bid their farewells. If you need a further visual for that, just take a look at the cover of Queen’s 1977 album Live Killers and you’ll see what I’m jawing about. I’d also like to point out since I mentioned at the beginning of this post that Mercury isn’t sporting his famous mustache, however you will see said ‘stache in a segment for the show that features the band performing “Flash’s Theme” from Queen’s ninth-studio record, the original soundtrack for the 1980 film Flash Gordon. Here Freddie’s famous facial hair is intact. While confusing, if you do the math Mercury’s mustache officially made its return to his mug during the recording of the Flash score and the clip ended up making its way into The Queen Special to help further promote that (recent) release.
Lastly before you view the video below I’ll fully disclose that the quality is a little bit shaky as it was captured the good-old-fashioned 80s way and recorded on VHS during a broadcast on channel 51 via WKID in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Despite this I can honestly say it’s a super gratifying time-capsule full of lots of blood-pumping highlights that truly make it worth watching. Dig it.
‘The Queen Special,’ 1980.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
John Deacon of Queen gets his palm read by a Japanese fortune-teller in 1977
Stunning images & footage of Queen’s first visit to Japan in 1975 & their triumphant return in 1976